A major Siem Reap-based wildlife and aquarium project worth $70 million in investment will begin construction in May.
The project is an initiative of Angkor Wildlife & Aquarium Co Ltd – a Cambodian-Japanese joint venture – and is in association with US company International Concept Management Inc (ICM), which designs, project-manages and operates aquariums and marine parks globally.
ICM has previously partnered with Disney, the San Francisco Academy of Sciences, the Baltimore Aquarium, the Osaka Aquarium, Xcaret Park in Mexico and Loro Park of the Canary Islands among others.
The project will be built on 100ha of land, divided into three phases. The first phase will cost $18 million in investments and will begin operations in May 2021.
The second and third phases will include a botanical garden, exhibition halls, reptile sites, a recreation area, shops and world-class hotels. These will help attract tourists to stay longer in Siem Reap province.
Speaking at the inauguration ceremony at the US Ambassador’s Residence on Monday night, Roger R Reynolds, ICM founder and the chairman of Angkor Wildlife & Aquarium, said the project will be developed into an entertainment centre and world-class education institution for wildlife conservation and environmental protection.
Reynolds said the project will play an important role in collaborating with local and regional level conservation organisations.
“We expect that our iconic project will become a world-class destination in Siem Reap on a 100ha site . . . wildlife needs lots of space. Our goal is to ensure that it will become the second must-see attraction after Angkor Wat,” he said.
Ministry of Tourism secretary-of-state Tith Chantha said with the rapid growth of tourists, Cambodia also needs to invest heavily in infrastructure, airports, hotels, restaurants and resorts.
“I am convinced that the Angkor Wildlife Park and Aquarium project led by Meng Hieng, a Cambodian entrepreneur, will be a success and potentially add value to the extension of stay for tourists in Siem Reap, Angkor, its surrounding areas, and the whole country,” he said.
Michael Newbill, the Charge d’Affaires at the US Embassy in Cambodia, said the project was one of the US’ largest in the Kingdom.
He said thanks to US support, the freshwater fish aquaculture, marine and world-class sanctuaries will be a global tourist destination.
“I know that the Angkor Wildlife & Aquarium will be an excellent way for families to spend time together in Siem Reap,” he said.